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...really annoyed by sons school!

42 replies

honeyandsalt · 30/03/2011 22:56

So, my son is 3 and we've just moved house, and he's been ill with a bad cold & cough. Surprisingly though, when I started him at nursery school a few weeks ago he seemed to settle straight in. Great! Until last Thursday that is, when the wee man just had a day when he was genuinely too knackered to go in - with no answer on the school's phone we nipped up to say he wasn't going to be going (we live 50 yards away). He was upset and thought he was going to be left, but we went home, he had a sleep, no great drama.

The next day, friday, he really started displaying seperation anxiety, crying if I tried to leave and so on. I gave it half an hour to try to settle him, then left him (in tears) for five minutes - when I returned he seemed to have calmed so I left again without upsetting him by reappearing in class. Not for long though, as when I get home I received a phone call within a few minutes to say he was still upset.... so I went to collect him to find him playing quite happily. Well, ok then I thought, and took him home for the weekend rather than confusing him by coming and going.

Monday comes around and my husband was off and went with him to nursery, only to return, with child, 15 minutes later. Apparently he was getting really upset and said he was too tired, a member of staff just tried to grab him and so my husband simply said he was too tired and took him home - except, he wasn't really too tired this time as he patently had been the previous Thursday.

Now, the wee man has developed seperation anxiety before, in his old nursery, and a similarish sort of thing happened. We tried leaving him, it didn't work, and in the end my Mum who was looking after him during the day at that time simply stayed around in nursery for a few days, and fairly quickly he got his confidence back and was able to return to normal without the trauma of the "dump them and run" approach.

So we decided that a similar tack would probably work this time, and I turned up with him the next day and explained that this had happened before, what we did to resolve the situation, and that I would stick around to ease him back in - he was still very clingy and unsure about being there where he had been confident and happy to go before. The teacher was clearly unhappy about this tack from the start, and tried to persuade the wee guy that Mummy had to go because they had a special secret thing to do she couldn't possibly see (making Mother's day card obv) - I couldn't have been happier if he'd taken the bait and been fine for me to leave at that, but he just wasn't for having it, and stuck by close for the day, starting to strike out on his own gradually and even not wanting to leave nursery at the end of the day, so progress was being made. Which is when both his teacher and the headmistress of the school, who had been around that day, tackled me saying they weren't happy and he just had to be left, he would start to expect me to be there (yet their literature encourages parents to come in and help out?!), he was just crying to upset me (?!?!?!) it was the best thing for him etc. So I was basically railroaded into changing tacks and leaving a sobbing wreck the next day - thankfully he did calm down through the session, but I do think in this instance the approach was unduly harsh and unkind. Not to mention all the sideways glances and comments from the nursery staff implying that the whole problem was with me.

Am I being unreasonable in feeling annoyed and humiliated by the whole situation?

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Cyclebump · 31/03/2011 11:20

Hmmm, so tricky. I'm pg with DC1 so am not a parent yet but...

I teach music classes starting age three and in the five years I've been doing it we've dealt with thus kind of thing many times. IME the most effective technique is for the parent to leave and not return until the end of the class/session.

We have two teachers at all times so generally one of us will sit with the distressed child and distract them with instruments or ask about their clothing (many love to discuss their shoes Hmm). The problem with letting parents stay in is that other children then decide they want their parents to stay too and it takes much longer for the child to settle. Also, if they leave for the lesson then return every week at the same time, the child sees the pattern and becomes comfortable with the routine as they know mummy/daddy will come back at the time promised.

However, I always explain our reasoning to parents and I have never judged a parent over this, some kids just settle quicker than others and I'm sure when my LO arrives I'd be just as upset leaving them sobbing with someone else. So perhaps the school should have explained and been more sympathetic.

daytoday · 31/03/2011 11:26

Poor you.

We moved when my son was three, nearly four and he started late at a local (outstanding) school nursery. He had never suffered any separation anxiety until then. We decided to pull him out of the school nursery as we felt he'd already had one big change (moving). He was starting school in 8 months anyway and I didn't want to have months of tears.

So we had a lovely last year together. Parents etc helped - it was bloody hard work but by the time he started school he was MUCH MUCH more settled.

It can be an enormous deal for a 3 year old to move. New parks, shops, bedroom etc. Their whole world has changed.

When my son did start school, he started at the same time as the other children and that helped. He did cry etc but because I knew he was happy and settled in his new home - it felt much easier leaving him.

Also in school nurseries the ratio of teachers/helpers to children can be shockingly low - (just one adult for 12 children). I'm afraid to say I help out in our nursery a lot and hate to see that some children spend the majority of their time crying it out without enough comfort.

School nursery isn't for all children. Its great when it works.

I found when they all start school everyone works so hard to ensure they are happy and not left to 'cry it out.' Their is much more support for the wee ones that struggle.

daytoday · 31/03/2011 11:34

Also, I would absolutely ignore comments about whether or not your continuing presence disturbs the other settled children. Their is a little boy who has just started my daughters school nursery, late and having just moved into the area. He really doesn't want him mum to leave him. If the school is happy (and they are!) and the mum is happy to stay - I am absolutely fine with it and support her all the way.

You know what's best for your children, be open to help, but you can't parent for the benefit of others in these sort of situations.

If you hadn't have just moved then my advice would probably be different. As I have also settled an incredibly nervous, clinging daughter into nursery. However, when the time was right, after a week of staying. I did drop her off and leave her crying BUT the only change in her life was starting nursery. Everything else remained the same.

Supermoo · 31/03/2011 11:35

I think the teacher could have dealt with it better. As someone else said - you being present but unavailable, or working out a system of you leaving earlier each day for a few days might have been better. There's nothing worse than leaving your little one screaming and unhappy, except perhaps when you're made to feel like a clingy, neurotic mother by the nursery staff! My dd has had the odd day like this - usually if she's tired or feeling poorly - and I have stayed for half an hour helping the whole group till she settled. This has not been welcomed by the stafaf though, who warned me not to be 'manipulated' by her as she'll 'get the wrong idea'?!

Anyway, YANBU - but you do need to keep in mind the goal of leaving him there rather than getting into a habit of staying for the whole day.

pingu2209 · 31/03/2011 11:39

When is his birthday? Is he starting school this September or next?

This is going to sound increadibly harsh but I am not sure you are doing the best thing for him in the long run. I think you are teaching him he can cry/play up and mummy will come and take him home, which you can't do when he starts school.

Preschool is supposed to be a stepping stone from play groups/nurseries to big school. You want him to go through the pain of having to go in no matter what when he is at preschool - rather than at reception.

At that age you can speak to them about it and tell them that they have to go and no matter what you will not come until normal pick up. I suggest you speak to the nursery staff so that they know that there may be a few days of massive tears until you dc gets the message.

Most reception teachers I know are quite tough, they have to be because they have 30 4 year olds to control. My son at not even 4 1/2 was carried into school crying when he didn't want to go - by the teacher, not me!

honeyandsalt · 01/04/2011 22:34

Thank you everyone.

Unfortunately we're now in a situation where dump and run has made his seperation anxiety much worse - he's having nightmares now and crying on the way into nursery. It seems to work for other people, and if dump and run was easing his anxieties and had worked that would be fantastic but frankly it hasn't. We're in a catch-22 where if I'm with him at nursery he's now terrified of me leaving, the whole strategy has done damage and it'll be tricky trying to reverse it. It's the school holidays for the next two weeks though, so we'll leave him with friends and family as much as we can and take some classes (swimming or whatever) to try to desensitise him to noisy environments and build his confidence.

@pingu - He's just 3, starting school next Sept not this, and is still not settled in his new home and village.

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llareggub · 01/04/2011 23:17

Going against the grain a little, I'd probably just keep him at home until he is used to his new surroundings. There's no rush, is there?

Al1son · 01/04/2011 23:26

You should have a think about llareggub's comment.

Perhaps leaving it for the summer term would be better unless you need this time for working. He can start again in Sept when he's settled, a bit older and still have a year of nursery before starting school which is plenty of time.

honeyandsalt · 01/04/2011 23:29

@llareggub - thank you, I don't see the rush either, though I do feel nursery has benefits to offer. His teacher seemed desperate to resettle him using dump-and-run before the easter break (which is now upon us) and like I said it's been counterproductive. We'll see how he is after the holiday.

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honeyandsalt · 01/04/2011 23:38

@Al1son - Discussion with the headmistress after the break, I feel a bit like a naughty schoolgirl! Fortunately she doesn't look much older than me...

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llareggub · 01/04/2011 23:47

The reason I say it is because I have a son a year older who went through a terrible time at pre-school. I tried everything but withdrawing him. In the end I swapped t a different pre-school,one that I had previously discounted, and he couldn't be happier. Trust your instincts.

honeyandsalt · 01/04/2011 23:52

@llareggub -thank you for your support, I should know to trust my instincts by now but it's good to be reminded!

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geraldinetheluckygoat · 02/04/2011 00:02

I haven't read the whole thread but just wanted to say that in ds2's nursery we are allowed to stay, if we want, and they also have a separate room you can wait in if your child is struggling, so they can go play and then come back to check that mum is still there. Works really well. I think that after a while of doing this, if the child still isnt settling, they do encourage mum to make a break, but for short periods which are then gradually lengthened. I dont think you sound clingy, I think you probably know what works best for your child, and the nursery should not be making you feel guilty for wanting to help to settle him in, especially since this method has worked for him so well in the past.

Al1son · 02/04/2011 00:12

Good luck with the chat honeyandsalt.

IMO more people should trust their instincts about their children. I wish I had a lot sooner.

nailak · 02/04/2011 00:46

yanbu, in my dds nursery they make parents stay for settlin for as lon as the child needs it and slowly et them used to periods without parents,
for first few days the parents pick them up before roup time, and then ater on stay for roup time, and if any difficulties like this, they ask the parent to wait in reception for a while or stay until child is happy.

honeyandsalt · 20/04/2011 22:15

Just an update for anyone who's interested:

We tried "dump and run" with my toddler twice before the Easter break, which resulted in greatly increased anxiety and fear about going to nursery. On the final day before holidays I went in with him and stayed for the session, he was worried throughout the session I was about to leave and quite clingy.

Over the holidays I did some research into what treatment options work for seperation anxiety, and found that there is strong evidence to say that cognitive-behavioural therapy (CBT) works. The cornerstone of the CBT approach to reducing fears is gradual exposure to the feared object. So over the holidays we watched youtube videos of kids going to nursery, and played "leaving DS in nursery" role playing games.

Upon my son's return to nursery, he was still very fearful of going in on the first day, but much more relaxed through the session. I stayed for most of it, and left when he was happy about it, five minutes before the end. Day two I was able to leave within half an hour, and today (day 3) he was just fine.

I'm so proud of my wee man for overcoming his fear of nursery, though it's unfortunate that we had to undertake this process without the support of the school (the head was not. happy.)

Anyway, that's the craic.. Cheers all x

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heliumballoons · 20/04/2011 22:18

Ah glad it all worked out. Smile

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